Kyle Churchill

Chain Rose Up

Teachers stalked their students as they watched the front of the classroom. Desks in perfect rows. Video screens droned out dates and algebraic equations endlessly. Outside, suspicious feet plodded up and down the hall.

She judged there was at least four now. Whispering to each other as they always did. Lockers were opened. Sounds of bathroom stalls being kicked in. They were closer now.

Her breathing heavy, she heard them moving in her direction and her hand scratched, faster and more frantic now, across the wood, her eyes wide.

The handle on the door behind her turned and shot an inch, but would not open. “It’s in here!” called a man’s voice.

The handle turned again this time, the imposing figure threw his weight into the door, the broomstick barring it shut cracked in two and fell to the floor. She grunted and hunched over further on the floor, in spite of these grim zealots’ intrusion, all ten of her bound fingers continued moving the nail gripped between them furiously.

She was jerked up from behind, her legs flailing wildly, covered in the fabric of the black unitard they had forced her to start wearing only two weeks ago as she cried out in raging indignation. The man that had picked the girl up now had her in a strong grip. Despite struggling, she could not get free.

“How have you been doing it this time!?” He tightened his grip and gave her a good shake.

She continued to writhe.

“HOW?!” he bellowed with loud frustration.

She responded by swiping the nail at his neck.

“Agh! No!” He took her wrist and wrapped the arm around her back. She let out a cry as a pop sounded from her shoulder.

The man covered her mouth with one hand and dragged her out into the hallway. The other three piled into the closet and began searching.

“Here! It’s been carving it into the shelves,” said one investigating man as he hunkered down towards the floor. After he had made sure his partner holding the girl had heard him, he stood up and began tearing things out of their places; boxes, shelves, the three-legged table in the corner. Under the boxes he found other bits of her previous work. On pieces of cardboard, tree bark, crumpled napkins emblazoned with letters of scarlet.

“Ah . . . so there was more it hadn’t told us about,” Said one of the men in a vindicated tone.

The one restraining the girl spat out, “You’re done. They’ve had it with you”.

The girl’s kicks granted her a punch in the stomach. The wind knocked out of her, she quieted and became dizzy as they hauled her away, towards the staircase and headed down.

From behind, she heard the faint sound of liquid being splashed inside the utility closet in which she had sought refuge. She thought she heard a soft ‘woof’ sound in between the clunking footsteps on the cement stairs, but it was probably just the blood pounding in her ears.

The deeper they took her down into the bowels of EF 024612, the more the will to resist left her. It was dark down there, and it was getting darker. The black mass enveloping everything was frightening. It seemed to be a physical thing, weighing down on her lungs, restricting her already short breath.

She could tell they were going down stairs, but how many? They seemed to go on forever. Did they go on forever? The idea was not entirely beyond her imagination. But that’s what got her this trip into darkness in the first place.

The pain in her shoulder and stomach had become unbearable. The swirling emotions in her brain collapsed in a heap as she lost consciousness and went limp in the stone-faced man’s icy grip.

*
 
Her pupils stung and raced inward, shrinking. Someone had finally turned on a light. But she realized this was not so. Her head was resting on hard stone. She had just woken up, though she didn’t remember ever going to sleep.

As she sat up, her body noted that her wrists seemed too cold. She looked down and saw metal shackles that bound her to the stone wall at her back by about ten inches of chain.

Her face shot up when that cold, familiar voice sounded from the corner: “I hope you’re happy now,” The stone-faced man said with a mocking, almost gleeful tone as he moved toward her, the other three men watching from the opposite wall. “You knew this was coming. If you had stayed in line, none of this would have happened. If you had just done what you were told.”

He stood in front of her hunched form, looking now with anger. “They gave you a million chances and then some, but you just threw them all in their faces. In MY face. You could have avoided all of this; the punishments, the stalling, this pathetic outfit . . . and of course, the silencing. You’d be up there with all the other children, but no!” Through gritted teeth and spat out: “you just wouldn’t LISTEN!” On this last word, he brought up his foot and brought it across the girl’s face with harsh force.

“Okay, that’s enough,” said one of the other men. “Let’s go let them know that it won’t be giving them anymore trouble.” Without a word, the stone-face man turned and began to walk away.

Blood filled the girl’s mouth and dribbled out one corner. Every part of her body ached, but she gathered her strength, sat up, and spit a few drops of blood on the stone-faced man’s shoes. He shot around. “YOU-!

One of his men blurted “Easy! You know we can’t-”

The man whose face was no longer stone shot his foot into the girl’s face with all his strength.

Her head whipped back. A Crimson Rose bloomed on the wall, and then . . . Dark . . .



 

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